Right at the turn of the aughts, the nebulous genre known as “chillwave” was all the rage, and Neon Indian’s Alan Palomo was its poster boy. On the excellent Psychic Chasms, he took chintzy beats and funky lo-fi synths to psychedelically chilled out heights, while the underrated follow-up, Era Extrana, looked further into the underbelly of ’80s pop for a nighttime pop album worthy of Donnie Darko. Now years later, Palomo has his work cut out for him as EDM rules the summer fest circuit. Somehow, Vega Intl. Night School manages to remind you of the bets bits of chillwave while successfully moving forward. For those in the know, “Annie” was the banger of the summer, flowing new agey flutes into a digi reggae bounce that sounds like a reconfigured synth-funk memory. The old school hip hop vibe of “Street Level” and synth R&B smear “Smut!” seem to drip acid, coming at you and receding simultaneously. “Slumlord” and “Techno Clique” really let Palomo venture into his classic house fetish, naturally extending the sound he’s cultivated thus far into a rewarding new direction. By far his longest and most complete album, Vega ends on a few lightly tossed off tracks—“C’est La Vie” is an italo disco-inspired splatter of color, “61 Cygni Ave” sounds like two Men at Work and Cameo tapes were left in the sun and melted together, and “News From the Sun” ends things on a straight up Prince homage. Detractors might still find fuel since Palomo primarily mines well-worn ’80s pop influences. However, his ability to render those inspirations as alien forms makes him as relevant as ever, bleeding tracks into one another in a perfectly packaged, post-Internet free-for-all that sets your pleasure sensors on overdrive.
Gun Outfit – “Dream All Over”
L.A. dream-rockers Gun Outfit have released several great tracks already from their upcoming fourth album, Dream All Over, which is due Oct. 16 on Paradise of Bachelors. The title track builds on droning guitars that split the difference between Morricone and The Velvet Underground, painting imagery of a moonlit California sky with tangled guitar thunder. Check out Dream All Over when it comes out next week.
Drab Majesty – “The Heiress” video
Defiantly gothy synth-pop of the highest order comes to us from L.A.’s Drab Majesty on “The Heiress.” It’s the latest single and video from their album Careless, out on Dais. Get lost in their halls of purple neon and digital waves via Tiny Mix Tapes. They’ll be at Oakland’s Santos Studios Nov. 6 and L.A.’s Complex Nov. 7.
Kisses continue to make smart, chilled-out disco-pop on their third album, stripping back some of the atmospherics of previous releases and upping the grooves. Spareness reveals how lovely Jesse Kivel’s voice and melodies are on a song like “Sun,” as Kivel moves from singing over a solo beat into a falsetto over romantic synth touches. Freestyle and ’80s synth R&B inform tracks like “Control” without them being mere homages. Most of Rest in Paradise sits comfortably as headphone-friendly electro pop, but a track like “A Groove” also gets your blood pumping with its high-hats, rubbery bassline and pure disco strings and guitars. Rest in Paradise is perhaps the L.A. duo’s best and boldest album yet, building on their easy appeal while delivering the disco jammers in spades.
Protomartyr make no-bullshit indie rock. Guitars are as in-tune as when they pick them up. Joe Casey’s vocals are declarative and fierce, eschewing melody in favor of direct emotion, spitting “I will make them feel the way I do” on surging opener “The Devil in His Youth.” This isn’t to say Protomartyr are sloppy. Everything on The Agent Intellect feels finely honed, drawing from bands like Husker Du, R.E.M. and Guided By Voices to distill bile-ridden diatribes into taut, nihilistic post-punk. Protomartyr’s tunneling rhythms and mangled notes aren’t particularly pretty, but The Agent Intellect feels true and cathartic. “Tell me how you really feel” might be one of the most annoying phrases in the English language. Protomartyr answer in kind.
What! Another new Beach House album? You heard that right.
Even if you haven’t finished digesting the delicious stew that is Beach House’s most recent album, Depression Cherry, which was released just two months ago, there’s a new one coming out Oct. 16 called Thank Your Lucky Stars. Which is what we’re all doing right now because you can never have enough Beach House in your life.
The album will first come out as a full-length LP, with the CD out a couple of weeks later. You can preorder both now on Amoeba.com. Why might you want to do that now, you may ask? The early birds who preorder now will get Sub Pop's "Loser Edition," the label's early color vinyl releases (this one's green). The LP also comes with a download card of the album.
According to the band’s Twitter account, it’s not a companion album nor a B-sides comp but rather its own album, as Pitchfork reports.
One of the most prolific and idiosyncractic songwriters of his generation has covered an entire album from one of the most ubiquitous pop stars of her generation, and soon you can own the results on LP or CD!
Ryan Adams' full-album cover of Taylor Swift's megaselling 1989 album was an welcome surprise, as Adams filtered Swift's maximalist radio pop into his world-weary Americana style. The album will be released by Blue Note on CD Oct. 30 and on LP Dec. 11.
Reviews for the album have been overwhelmingly positive, with Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt claiming, "If turning the biggest, shiniest pop record of the past year into a survey course in classic rock economy sounds like a novelty, it is. But it’s also the best kind—one that brings two divergent artists together in smart, unexpected ways, and somehow manages to reveal the best of both of them."